It started with the signing of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln.?The Central Pacific Railroad of California, chartered in 1861, was authorized to build a line east from Sacramento. At the same time, the Act chartered the Union Pacific Railroad Company to build west from the Missouri River. The original legislation granted each railroad 6,400 acres and up to $48,000 in government bonds for each mile completed. And so, The Great Race began.
After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, communities all along the backbone of the Western United States – some created by the railroad – were forever changed. These are their stories.